Orchids are found in every corner of the planet and come from the biggest family of cultivated plants on earth: 30,000 wild species. There are twice as many orchid species as there are species of birds! Orchids have had a 200-year journey from the tropical jungles to become the nation's most popular houseplant.
Story: Linda Ross
Images: Luisa Brimble
How to make your orchid flower again
Orchids are rewardingly independent and thrive on neglect. My regime centres on their flowering at a time when there is little else to excite me, during the winter months. They spend most of the year in the shade, watered by the rain and fed every month with seaweed and occasionally with orchid feed. In April they come out into the full sun to develop their flower buds, then I move them back onto the porch where they take centre stage, flowering their socks off until spring.
Moth Orchid care
- Moth orchids have rambling white roots that produce energy from light, so grow them in clear pots. As a bonus, you are more likely to notice if the roots are too wet or too dry.
- Moth orchids need bright light, but not direct sunlight, and the ideal room temperature is a steady 20°C.
- Moth orchids have thick white aerial roots — it's normal for them to escape the pot!
- You really do only need to water them once a week, but the water should be rainwater. Fill a bucket with lukewarm rainwater and submerge the whole plant (in its pot) for a few minutes, then stand on a rack to drain for half an hour, before returning it to its container.
- I like to keep moth orchid pots on a saucer filled with small pebbles and water to increase humidity around the plant.
- Feed fortnightly or as often as you can with a hand sprayer. Mist leaves with half-strength Aquasol.
- Gas from fruit in nearby bowls can cause flowers to age prematurely.
- Keep plants out of draughts.
Cymbidium Orchid care
- Most terrestrial orchids, such as cymbidiums, need a special orchid bark mix to grow in, not soil.
- Water less often during the winter months and don't let them sit in saucers of water.
- Allow pots to drain completely.
- Feed with Strike Back pellets during the growing season.
- When repotting, cut off any brown roots or shrivelled bulbs.
This story was first published in Home Life online Magazine
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